After an op-ed appeared in the Boston Globe about living in the city in order to save nature, I felt compelled to write a response. The author, Harvard economist E. L. Glaeser, extolled the virtues of being a city dweller, although he admitted to living in a woodsy suburb (“If you love nature, move to the city,” Feb. 20). The article was replete with well-intentioned rhetoric about the virtues of “smart growth” and living in higher densities. Of course there was no mention of how contact with nature is critically important to the human psyche, or how population growth drives the negative effects humanity is having on the environment.
Depending on your sensibilities, living in the city means sacrificing quality of life. It means living with more crime, more traffic, more noise (car alarms, modified mufflers, car stereos), less privacy, lower air quality, fewer parking spaces, less trust in others, less safety to walk about at night, fewer songbirds, and fewer stars at night.
If I was told to make all these sacrifices so that there would be less carbon in the air, I would laugh. Meanwhile, the foundation of our current economic system is to perpetually grow and accelerate the consumption of resources.
Perhaps Mr. Glaeser should write about the role of population growth on carbon emissions, or the benefits of a steady-state economy, which holds real promise to protect nature.